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AHFA Launches Enhanced Internet Search Tool

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) announced a significant enhancement to the furniture search tool on its award-winning consumer website, www.findyourfurniture.com. The new “Furniture Finder” is designed to help furniture manufacturers meet the needs of American consumers who increasingly research their purchases online. The powerful new Furniture Finder will allow shoppers to conduct detailed product searches in an expansive, multi-brand, digital catalog. This vast virtual showroom will provide manufacturers with unlimited “floor space” to merchandise their products. The program was developed in partnership with FurnitureDealer.net, a provider of websites and Internet marketing services for the furniture industry. “Furniture shoppers have embraced the Internet,” notes Jackie Hirschhaut, AHFA Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing. “In fact, a recent survey by Nielsen Online shows that furniture is the eighth most researched product on Internet search engines.” Despite this fact, e-commerce remains a relatively insignificant channel of home furnishings distribution. “This is because furniture simply does not play to the strengths of e-commerce,” says Mike Bernstein, president of FurnitureDealer.net’s manufacturer services. “It is generally considered an expensive, complex purchase decision. Most shoppers still want to see and touch furniture before making a purchase decision. And they still value professional assistance in making selections, not to mention the assurance of post-sale service.” But finding the products they want to buy in those stores increasingly has become an online venture. “The big winners are the companies that invest in creating digital catalogs and aggressively distributing them wherever consumers are looking for furniture,” says Bernstein. “AHFA’s Find Your Furniture website already had a huge and loyal following. But, previously, it only allowed consumers to shop one brand at a time, one website at a time.” The new Furniture Finder will be the ultimate destination for researching furniture purchases, he insists. “It’s a more convenient, multi-brand environment. Companies can differentiate their products with detailed descriptions and photographs that include close-ups to highlight unique features and craftsmanship. Powerful search tools enable consumers to narrow their search – even down to the specific width or height of the desired piece. And easily-accessed pages of related items help convert single-product shoppers into multiple-product buyers.” Once they have narrowed their search, shoppers will be able to locate stores that carry the products they want. “This program represents a paradigm shift in the way manufacturers look at the Internet,” says Hirschhaut. “We are arming them with the tools they need to leverage the Internet to grow their business through their preferred retail channels.” The enhanced Furniture Finder will debut on www.findyourfurniture.com January 1, 2009. The website, which AHFA launched in 2002, will continue to offer consumers detailed shopping tips, furniture care and safety information, helpful tools for identifying furniture styles, a room planner and the latest trend and new product information. The American Home Furnishings Alliance – located in High Point, N.C., and Washington, D.C. – works to promote the growth and global leadership of its member companies, which include more than 240 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus about 200 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. For more information, visit www.ahfa.us. FurnitureDealer.net helps furniture retailers and manufacturers implement multi-channel strategies that promote sales through retail stores and salespeople. FurnitureDealer.net builds websites and provides product content management, search engine optimization, email marketing, sales training and in-store integration. For more information, visit www.furnituredealer.net.

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